Producer Jermaine Dupri countersues SunTrust

Atlanta music producer Jermaine Dupri claims SunTrust Bank, which is suing him and his So So Def Productions for about $1.9 million, improperly altered a loan, leaving him with “unachievable payment terms” and fighting state and federal tax liens.

Dupri filed a response in Fulton County Superior Court this week to the suit filed by SunTrust in May. He is seeking at least $216,000 in damages and legal fees.

SunTrust spokesman Hugh Suhr said Thursday the bank does not comment on client relationships or litigation.

Dupri said that as part of a 2009 loan, SunTrust had agreed to use 25 percent of proceeds from music royalties to pay taxes owed to Georgia and the Internal Revenue Service, but the bank failed to make the payments.

Dupri claims that in 2010, SunTrust changed terms of the $4.9 million loan to remove the provision requiring that it make the tax payments.

In SunTrust’s lawsuit, filed in May, the bank alleges the Grammy winner was in default on the loan, which is backed by copyrighted music owned by Dupri, So So Def and other businesses, as well as a building on Briarwood Court in DeKalb County that houses two recording studios.

Dupri has had financial problems in recent years. He has faced state and federal tax liens, and foreclosure proceedings on his Mount Paran Road mansion.

At one point, SunTrust agreed to allow Dupri, whose real name is Jermaine Dupri Mauldin, to sell a catalog of songs as part of a plan to repay the debt. The documents do not specify which songs, but that deal apparently fell apart.

Dupri’s counterclaim accuses SunTrust of fraud and breach of contract. Dupri said terms of the loan revision in 2010 changed what were originally variable payments — due to the unpredictability of royalties from EMI Music Publishing — to higher fixed payments. As a result, a loan that originally was not in default, the producer said, soon became in default because new payments “were not based on realistic projections of Dupri’s income.”

He also said his legal and financial representatives were not allowed to review the loan revision documents before he signed them, despite the trust he and SunTrust had built “over many years.”